Encyclopedia Brown + Adrenaline – DOC AND THE DETECTIVE IN GRAVEYARD TREASURE by Tim Tingle

Thank you to Kidlit Exchange (and Arthur A Levine Books!) for the ARC of Tim Tingle’s contemporary Middle Grade mystery, DOC AND THE DETECTIVE IN GRAVEYARD TREASURE.

Timmy, a twelve-year-old aspiring police detective, tries to solve the mystery when his neighbor and best friend, Doc’s, house is robbed. Timmy is a more relatable and funnier, Choctaw take on Encylopedia Brown, and this book delivers much more adrenaline. 

But Timmy quickly learns that Doc (a 60-ish professor struggling with dementia) is not the only elderly person in the area to get robbed. 

Timmy’s Oklahoma hometown is small enough,that his friend and mentor Officer Holden makes him an honorary police detective and puts him on the case of the burglary sting. 

Honestly, that plot point may not be realistic at all, but it seriously amps up the coolness and action factors in the story. 

DOC AND THE DETECTIVE IN GRAVEYARD TREASURE is a roller coaster ride of intrigue, adrenaline, and an adorable preteen friendship/crush with just a splash of character education.

Visually the book design – the fonts, the smudged-pencil noir illustrations – is stunning.

Diversity

  • Choctaw #ownvoices on both author and illustrator. 
  • Timmy is Choctaw himself. While it’s not central to the story, Tingle adds in a neat Choctaw/American English vocab lesson. 
  • Dementia and the real-life challenges A family faces when dealing with it, are shown in an empathetic and realistic way.
So cool, right?

Loved

  • Timmy is streetsmart, a go-getter, and has a big heart. This book is the epitome of a story or the child protagonist is empowered.
  • Also, in a world over done with pushing kids into STEM careers*, it is very refreshing to see a positive portrayal of a boy passionate about a non-STEM yet very important calling. 
  • While the issue Timmy addresses – elder abuse – is serious and under discussed, Tingle only gets didactic for a small paragraph in 200 pages (it was needed information). 
  • Tingle also drives home the message (in a kid-friendly way, through Timmy) to be very careful what you say to the media.

You know what, excuse me while I give this book to my nine-year-old son who aspires to be a Federal Agent. 

Caveat

  • There are a few scary moments where Timmy confronts the burglars at midnight in a graveyard, and they threaten his life.
    • It is made abundantly clear how stupid it was for Timmy to do that; and obviously, how badkly it could have ended.
  • It… sounds like this book might be the start of a series? Note my link is to Scholastic; I was not able to find it on Amazon.

DOC AND THE DETECTIVE IN GRAVEYARD TREASURE is available now from Arthur A Levine Books. 

* I say this as a woman in STEM. I am fortunate to work for one of the half-dozen tech companies on this planet that treats its employees like human beings, but that doesn’t make a STEM career path a panacea by any means.

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